COVID-19 Update: Despite court closures in many areas, Sterling is still able to complete criminal checks with minimal disruption thanks to our proprietary end-to-end automation that allows us to access court information. For additional info on how Sterling is handling the COVID-19 situation, please visit our COVID-19 page.

October 30th, 2014 | Sterling

A Contingency Plan For The Contingent Workforce

A Contingency Plan For The Contingent Workforce | SterlingBackcheck

It’s undeniable. The use of contingent workers is becoming more widespread among employers and this trend is impacting how HR managers recruit, screen and hire talent for their organization. According to a recent study by Randstad, two-thirds of employers actively used contingent workers and 21 percent planned to increase their use. They also found that 8.3 percent of the overall workforce is comprised of contingent workers and experts predict that this could rise to as much as 50 percent in coming years.

The contingent workforce includes all non-permanent employees such as temps, independent contractors, consultants, outsourced workers and agency workers. Why hire contingent workers? Many companies find it more convenient and less expensive than hiring permanent employees. Overhead costs such as providing a workspace or health benefits tend to be lower. And in most cases, you only have to pay for the work you receive. It is the perfect arrangement for employers and employees with a fear of commitment.

While the contingent workforce is bound by different laws and often separate internal policies than permanent workers, there is one thing that they should have in common – background screening. Background checks should apply to both groups and while the majority of companies perform them prior to hiring a permanent employee, many seem to abandon process when onboarding a contingent worker.

Why skip the background check?

When using a temp agency, some employers mistakenly assume that the agency has done a thorough background check. In cases where contractors are hired, the HR manager may not be involved in the process and background screening is simply overlooked. Whatever the case, it is important for organizations to put policies in place that require background checks on all workers – permanent, temporary, or otherwise.

The extensive use of contingent workers is still relatively new in the US employment market and there are still some details that need to be worked out. Background checks are certainly near the top of the list. Even the most security-conscious organizations have fumbled when screening their extended workforce. In a recent case, President Obama found himself in an elevator with an armed felon who was working security at an event. The man was a private security contractor and somehow, the background screening was overlooked. The agents accompanying the President noticed that the man was behaving oddly so they pulled him aside to question him. They also ran a background check, which quickly revealed his criminal past. The private security firm who had hired him was also unaware of his criminal record and fired him on the spot.

Contingent workers often have the same privileges and access to company resources as permanent workers so they should be held to the same screening standard. The contingent workforce is one of the most common gaps in the background screening process. This gap can be managed by developing a screening policy that covers all types of workers. This is imperative to preventing security breaches, fraud, theft, and negligent hiring claims against your organization. In addition to writing the policy, it is also important for employers to educate their staff on the requirements and purpose of the policy and have the appropriate checks and balances in place to ensure that protocol is always followed.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.